RSA-509 - Protection & Advocacy of Individual Rights (PAIR) Program Performance Report

Tennessee (Disability Rights Tennessee) - H240A170043 - FY2017

General Information

Designated Agency Identification

NameDisability Rights Tennessee
Address2 International Plaza
Address Line 2Suite 825
Zip Code37217
Website Address
TTY 615-298-1080
Toll-free Phone800-287-9636
Toll-free TTY800-287-9636
Name of P&A Executive DirectorLisa Primm
Name of PAIR Director/CoordinatorLisa Primm
Person to contact regarding reportAnna Bass
Contact Person phone615-298-1080

Part I. Non-Case Services

A. Individual Information and Referral Services (I&R)

Multiple responses are not permitted.

1. Individuals receiving I&R within PAIR priority areas112
2. Individuals receiving I&R outside PAIR priority areas611
3. Total individuals receiving I&R (lines A1 + A2)723

B. Training Activities

1. Number of trainings presented by PAIR staff23
2. Number of individuals who attended training (approximate)751

Training efforts during this fiscal year spanned across several focus areas. These included disability discrimination and access; appropriate supports in schools and education rights; abuse and neglect; and voting access. All trainings were conducted as a result of systemic trends identified through individual cases. As appropriate, DRT collaborated with self-advocates and community collaborative partners to provide these trainings. Government and business entities are better prepared to provide access to individuals with disabilities because the staff of Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) educated 476 individuals over nine training sessions during FY2017 regarding disability discrimination and access. Participants included: individuals with PAIR eligible disabilities; communication centers for the deaf staff; mental health providers; vocational rehabilitation counselors and administrators; managed care organization representatives; law enforcement; medical providers; and state agency representatives. Training session topics such as general information regarding disabilities; disability sensitivity and etiquette; and the Americans with Disabilities Act provisions including requirements related to service animals and the provision of effective communication. One effective communication training was provided via Facebook Live and had 318 participants. Another example of this is a training that resulted from systemic barriers to access for individuals who are deaf in a small rural county. Educational focus was implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements in their county. This training included twenty-five representatives including county police departments, local hospitals, attorneys, and state agencies. Specific emphasis was given to the provision of effective communication under the Americans with Disabilities Act, including the provision of qualified sign language interpreters, to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Students with disabilities and their families are better informed about their educational rights as outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act because of training they received. Additionally, educational attorneys, advocates, and social workers are better equipped with specialized knowledge regarding students with disabilities. DRT trained approximately one hundred and eleven professionals, persons with disabilities, and family members in both rural and urban areas during the fiscal year. These individuals were trained through five specialized trainings and additional presentations during collaborative taskforces and committees. Topics included special education and Section 504 laws with emphasis on topics related to trends identified in DRT individual cases such as restraint and isolation, IEP implementation, behavior assessment, behavioral intervention plans, occupational diplomas, special education rights, and trends in charter and voucher programs. The DRT Abuse & Neglect (A&N) attorney and a DRT investigator presented a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) training to approximately forty Federal Public Defenders, panel attorneys, court staff, and support staff representing the Middle District of Tennessee. The training focused on P&A access authority and A&N investigation and monitoring in jails and prisons. Those trained had the opportunity to provide feedback and DRT received the following comments: "Excellent and inspiring"; "Well done, informative!"; "Very informative"; "Very thorough & useful"; and "Very useful knowledge & information which lends immediate assistance to our clients". To date, DRT has opened one A&N investigation on behalf of an inmate with mental illness as a direct result of this training and expect additional referrals to be made in the future. Individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities are now able to better access the voting process because of eight specialized trainings offered. These trainings took place in the individuals day programs and community support service centers. Both individuals and their staff were present at these trainings. A total of one hundred and twenty-four people participated. The participants received training about registering to vote, basic voting rights, and what to expect at the polls. Participants were also provided with a mock poll site experience. In some of the trainings offered, local administrators from the Election Commission were present. This allowed for participants and local officials to learn from one another. Participant feedback has shown that individuals with disabilities report feeling empowerment and comfort when accessing the polls due to these trainings. These efforts will continue in the next fiscal year.

C. Information Disseminated to the Public

1. Radio and TV appearances by PAIR staff2
2. Newspaper/magazine/journal articles3
3. PSAs/videos aired0
4. Hits on the PAIR/P&A website45,839
5. Publications/booklets/brochures disseminated20,490
6. Other (specify separately)0


Monthly editions of DRT’s e-news were distributed to 2,645 subscribers during FY2016 covering a wide range of topics including self-advocacy skills, employment services, access to assistive technology, voting access, disability discrimination, and special education among others. Additionally, email bulletins were sent throughout the year with special updates relating to public policy and education/training opportunities. Social media communications continued to be a means to distribute information. In total 340,621 people were reached via Facebook (261,847) and Twitter (78,774).

Part II. Individuals Served

A. Individuals Served

Count individual once per FY. Multiple counts not permitted for lines A1 through A3.

1. Individuals still served as of October 1 (carryover from prior FY)28
2. Additional individuals served during the year109
3. Total individuals served (lines A1 + A2)137
4. Individuals w. more than 1 case opened/closed during the FY. (Do not add this number to total on line A3 above.)18

B. Individuals served as of September 30

Carryover to next FY may not exceed total on line II. A.3 above 15

C. Problem Areas/Complaints of Individuals Served

1. Architectural accessibility3
2. Employment8
3. Program access83
4. Housing1
5. Government benefits/services0
6. Transportation1
7. Education25
8. Assistive technology0
9. Voting0
10. Health care6
11. Insurance0
12. Non-government services0
13. Privacy rights0
14. Access to records0
15. Abuse6
16. Neglect30
17. Other0

D. Reasons for Closing Individual Case Files

1. Issues resolved partially or completely in individual favor100
2. Other representation found2
3. Individual withdrew complaint23
4. Appeals unsuccessful2
5. PAIR Services not needed due to individual's death, relocation etc.1
6. PAIR withdrew from case7
7. PAIR unable to take case because of lack of resources1
8. Individual case lacks legal merit6
9. Other0

Please explain

E. Intervention Strategies Used in Serving Individuals

List the highest level of intervention used by PAIR prior to closing each case file.

1. Technical assistance in self-advocacy23
2. Short-term assistance39
3. Investigation/monitoring36
4. Negotiation37
5. Mediation/alternative dispute resolution3
6. Administrative hearings0
7. Litigation (including class actions)0
8. Systemic/policy activities4

Part III. Statistical Information on Individuals Served

A. Age of Individuals Served as of October 1

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. 0 - 40
2. 5 - 2233
3. 23 - 5981
4. 60 - 646
5. 65 and over17

B. Gender of Individuals Served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Females55
2. Males82

C. Race/Ethnicity of Individuals Served

For individuals who are non-Hispanic/Latino only

1. Hispanic/Latino of any race6
2. American Indian or Alaskan Native0
3. Asian1
4. Black or African American31
5. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander0
6. White96
7. Two or more races2
8. Race/ethnicity unknown1

D. Living Arrangements of Individuals Served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Independent66
2. Parental or other family home30
3. Community residential home5
4. Foster care0
5. Nursing home9
6. Public institutional living arrangement0
7. Private institutional living arrangement0
8. Jail/prison/detention center22
9. Homeless5
10. Other living arrangements0
11. Living arrangements not known0

E. Primary Disability of Individuals Served

Identify the individual's primary disability, namely the one directly related to the issues/complaints

1. Blind/visual impairment8
2. Deaf/hard of hearing58
3. Deaf-blind0
4. Orthopedic impairment18
5. Mental illness1
6. Substance abuse0
7. Mental retardation0
8. Learning disability7
9. Neurological impairment3
10. Respiratory impairment0
11. Heart/other circulatory impairment1
12. Muscular/skeletal impairment3
13. Speech impairment1
15. Traumatic brain injury0
16. Other disability37

Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation

A. Systemic Activities

1. Number of policies/practices changed as a result of non-litigation systemic activities13

2. Number of individuals potentially impacted by policy changes516,325

Describe your systemic activities. Be sure to include information about the policies that were changed and how these changes benefit individuals with disabilities. Include case examples of how your systemic activities impacted individuals served.

DRT filed a state administrative complaint for a student due to improper manifestation determination and confidentiality violations. Through the successful administrative complaint, the school system was required to train school staff in proper manifestation determinations and confidentiality issues. Tennessee Department of Education (TNDOE) compliance department sent a letter to the school system, with an attached OSEP guidance letter outlining that a school should consider suspected disabilities not only those disabilities already determined through eligibility guidelines during manifestation determination. Subsequent to these efforts additional concerns have been identified in this county and further efforts to remedy those issues will take place in the next fiscal year. To systemically address the well-being of children with disabilities served by the TNDOE, DRT served on numerous statewide committees and taskforces to provide legal advocacy input to TNDOE proactively. DRT served as a core member of the TNDOE 's Collaborative for Student Success, the Restraint and Isolation Data Taskforce, and the Individualized Education Account Advisory Committee. DRT recommended clarification to the Intellectual Disability eligibility requirements that were accepted by the TNDOE. DRT made recommendation for the development of a factsheet about the restraint statute for school systems. The resulting factsheet will protect students with disabilities due to schools understanding the law requirements and how to apply them in the classroom. In addition, DRT advocated for better data collection regarding the use of restraint and seclusions, the data collection improvements will enable the TNDOE and advocacy agencies to better analyze best practices and trends of inappropriate and/or excessive use of restraint and isolation. In response to these successful collaborative relationships, DRT and TNDOE are actively developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU will formalize areas of collaboration, such as opportunities for cross training and joint program initiatives, the potential to share information, to identify trends, and to plan interventions. This MOU is expected to be completed in the next fiscal year. DRT was alerted to a psychiatry clinic's discriminatory policy. Specifically, the policy, included in new-patient information packets, stated in bold lettering, that due to the clinic's overhead costs, the clinic did not see any patients that are “on disability or were planning to file for disability”. Upon contacting the clinic, DRT verified that this was the clinic's policy. DRT explained that it was our position that this policy was discriminatory under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The clinic agreed to discontinue the discriminatory policy and cease including it in its new-patient information packet. DRT also forwarded the clinic education materials regarding the ADA and access. As a result, systemic change was achieved, and any person with a disability, who receives disability, or who is applying for disability benefits can receive equal services at the clinic. DRT was contacted by a hard of hearing individual who reported discrimination during a past arrest and communication barriers while in the local jail. DRT informed caller that his statute of limitations for these incidents had already passed. However, DRT agreed to provide education about the relative issues to the involved parties so that future discriminatory instances would not occur for individuals with disabilities. DRT sent letters and educational material to the arresting agency and the agency operating the local jail informing them of their legal responsibilities while interacting with individuals with disabilities, specifically individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. DRT followed up with representatives of these agencies to ensure that the information had been received and would be integrated into practices. While involved with this client, the individual’s attorney also reached out to DRT about procuring proper access to the courtroom for the client’s upcoming trial. DRT educated caller’s attorney about the legal requirements of providing effective communication in the courtroom and suggested strategies for ensuring that access would be provided. She reported to DRT that she was not aware that her client had a right to auxiliary aids and services. The individual’s attorney will now ensure that he will be able to have equal access to his upcoming trial. As a result of these efforts, individuals with disabilities interacting with the two law enforcement agencies, and a private attorney all involved in this project will encounter a better informed and more equitable landscape. In collaboration with PAVA efforts, DRT successfully monitored the development of Tennessee’s Online Voter Registration System. Prior to the system becoming live, DRT recruited members of the disability community for testing of the platform. The group found several issues with access to the system, all of which were sent to the developers. DRT was able to negotiate changes that allowed the system to be accessible before it was launched. As a result of this work, thousands of Tennesseans with disabilities will have greater access to the voting registration process. After identifying significant issues in a privately contracted correctional facility, DRT met with facility administration to address the issues. Information was obtained through media coverage and numerous calls to DRT regarding care of the inmates with disabilities. DRT documented incidents of violence, lock down, lack of mental health, and medical care. The facility houses over two thousand six hundred inmates, with a minimum four hundred and fifteen of those being individuals with disabilities. The facility administration agreed that the issues outlined by DRT had all been ongoing problems and agreements were made for changes to facility practices, especially regarding medication administration. Subsequent to this change, DRT has had reduced calls with complaints. The effort to address mental health and medical treatment for inmates in Tennessee correctional facilities will continue. In May 2017, a DRT employee was approached by a deaf individual at an event. The individual expressed that he had previously been denied effective communication by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center. The concerned individual added that he knew of at least one other deaf individual who had a similar experience. The DRT employee promised to share this information with legal staff and urged the individual to let others with similar experiences know that they should contact DRT about their experiences. DRT’s legal staff opened a project to educate the Sherriff’s office on effective communication with deaf individuals. DRT plays a leading role on an exciting collaboration among numerous disability rights organizations and state agencies on Supported Decision Making, an important new concept and practice that is spreading across the nation. The concept is opening the potential for individuals to seek less restrictive forms of support other than guardianship/conservatorship, where they can keep their rights and have the ability to make their own decisions (with support) as much as possible so that the lives they lead are ones that they choose. The group meets regularly and has already made much progress with educating others about Supported Decision Making in Tennessee. First, DRT helped author and disseminate a white paper about Supported Decision Making and co-presented presentations about Supported Decision Making to multiple groups of individuals with disabilities and community advocates. The group provided education to member’s of Tennessee’s legislature giving recognition to Supported Decision Making as a less restrictive alternative to try before conservatorship. DRT researched statistics and literature and compiled resources relating to Supported Decision Making. DRT’s attorney represented DRT at important meetings with stakeholders as issues with formalizing Supported Decision Making in Tennessee were resolved and next steps determined.

B. Litigation/Class Actions

1. Number of individuals potentially impacted by changes as a result of PAIR litigation/class action efforts3,000
2. Number of individuals named in class actions2

Describe your litigation/class action activities. Explain how individuals with disabilities benefited from your litigation activities. Be sure to include case examples that demonstrate the impact of your litigation.

DRT collaborated with the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee (ACLU-TN) and a local law firm to bring a class action suit against the Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) seeking treatment for all inmates in TDOC custody infected with the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). We filed the suit on July 25, 2016 in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee Nashville Division. The District Court granted our motion for certification as a class action and the state petitioned the Sixth Circuit to hear an appeal of that certification. The Sixth Circuit declined to hear the state's appeal. This litigation is ongoing with a trial date set for December 4, 2018.

Part V. PAIR'S Priorities and Objectives

A. Priorities and Objectives for the Fiscal Year Covered by this Report

For each of your PAIR program priorities for the fiscal year covered by this report, please:

  1. Identify and describe priority.
  2. Identify the need, issue or barrier addressed by this priority.
  3. Identify and describe indicators PAIR used to determine successful outcome of activities pursued under this priority.
  4. Explain whether pursuing this priority involved collaborative efforts by other entities. If so, describe this collaboration.
  5. Provide the number of cases handled under the priority. Indicate how many of these, if any, were class actions.
  6. Provide at least one case summary that demonstrates the impact of the priority.

Priority 1: Persons with disabilities will experience reduced abuse and neglect. Objective 1: Investigate significant injuries or incidents that appear to result from abuse/neglect in institutional or community facilities. Objective 2: Monitor institutional and community facilities as to protect the residents’ safety and civil rights. Need addressed: Individuals with disabilities continue to experience abuse and neglect in public and private facilities in Tennessee due to limited resources, lack of knowledge of service providers, lack of supervision by service providers, lack of effective oversight by administrators, and the failure to follow identified best practices. Success Indicators: Investigations and Monitoring Activities completed Collaboration: Disability Rights Tennessee participated in 18 collaborative meetings and events directly related to Vulnerable Adult Coalitions and Elder Abuse. DRT actively engaged in the efforts of Vulnerable Adult Coalitions across the state; participated in community meetings regarding long-term care options; and sat on advisory councils for the Area Agency on Aging and disability. DRT participated in and provided training during the year as a result of this collaboration. Cases: 21 investigations of significant injuries or incidents and 10 monitoring activities in institutional or community facilities. Disability Rights TN (DRT) was contacted regarding a 43-year-old African-American male with diabetes currently housed in a rural West Tennessee correctional institution. It was reported that our client was being denied appropriate medical treatment by facility. It was further reported that our client would likely lose his entire foot to amputation due to neglect of medical treatment. Due to DRT's involvement our client received the medical treatment to address his foot issues, which did not result in the loss of his entire foot. Our client also received medical treatment to facilitate appropriate healing and care for his surgery wounds, as well as treatment for the nerve damage it was found he suffered due to issues with his diabetes. Further, our client has been provided medical shoes to accommodate his walking and gait from amputation of his toes as well as preventative measures for ongoing diabetes related foot issues. Priority 2: Persons with disabilities will be protected from disability related discrimination. Objective 1: Assist persons experiencing communication discrimination in business and government settings. Objective 2: Advocate to change selected discriminatory policies and practices. Need addressed: Individuals with disabilities continue to experience communication discrimination in business and government settings. For example, many business and government providers are reluctant to provide auxiliary aids and services such as sign language interpreters and information in alternate formats. Individuals with disabilities also continue to experience discrimination in employment. Such discrimination includes refusal to hire, termination, and failure to grant necessary reasonable accommodations. In addition to discrimination in communication and employment, there continue to exist other discriminatory policies and practices which negatively impact people with disabilities. For example, some medical providers will not grant reasonable modifications necessary to allow individuals with disabilities to access critical healthcare services. Success Indicators: casework and successful collaborative efforts Collaboration: Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) partnered with Emergency Awareness and Readiness Services (EARS) which is a consortium made up of other non-profit agencies and businesses that work within emergency preparedness and response. These agencies include Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Office of Emergency Management, The National Weather Service, The Center for Disease Control, The Tennessee Department of Health, and several Deaf advocates. As a result of DRT’s efforts with EARS, approximately 100 first responders from five regional districts, which include paramedics, police, and fire personnel, received training regarding effective communication in emergency settings. The first responders who received this training will return to their districts and educate other personnel about effective communication. Further DRT provided consultation and provided an electronic copy of a publication developed by DRT that addressed effective communication requirements in medical settings to the Office of Emergency Management and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency to help educate staff about the communication rights of Tennesseans who are Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and Hard of Hearing. Cases: 85 A 61-year-old, Caucasian female, who is deaf, contacted DRT about an urban sheriff's department refusing to provide her with a sign language interpreter. The sheriff's department operated the county jail. Specifically, the client was attempting to access the county jail's inmate visitor program in order to visit her son, who was incarcerated at the jail. The client is deaf, and her primary method of communication is American Sign Language (ASL). She became deaf twenty years ago, after she and her son became estranged. Therefore, her son did not know any ASL, and the client required a qualified sign language interpreter to communicate with him during her visit. When client called to request an interpreter for the visit, the jail refused the request. Client then contacted DRT for advocacy. DRT attorney contacted the jail and educated it and the local District Attorney's office on the requirements for effective communication and equal access to programs under Title II of the ADA. Attorney argued that client was a qualified person with a disability seeking to access a program run by the county; therefore, it was the county's responsibility under the ADA to provide her with effective communication in the form of an interpreter. Attorney also provided jail and DA's office with educational material on the ADA. Although the DA's office did not agree with DRT's position, county agreed to provide client with interpreter for her visit with her son. Client informed DRT that the meeting was successful and that she received effective communication with her son. As a result, county sheriff's office, jail, and county's district attorney's office have been educated as to the requirements for effective communication under the ADA and provided client with her requested reasonable accommodation of an interpreter. DRT also requested to work with county on its effective communication policy to effectuate systemic change. Priority 3: People with disabilities will be integrated in the community. Objective 1: Advocate for increased community services for people with disabilities. Objective 2: Advocate for appropriate implementation of IEPs, 504 plans, Functional Behavior Assessments and Behavior Intervention Plans. Objective 3: Provide disability related information to non-English speaking persons. Need addressed: There is an ongoing failure of Tennessee school systems to appropriately implement IEPs and 504 plans. These school systems also fail to develop appropriate Functional Behavior Assessments and Behavior Intervention Plans. DRT continues to work to ensure that non-English speaking persons have access to disability related information. Success Indicators: casework and successful collaborative efforts Collaboration: The Special Education Task Force helped to improve legal and advocacy services to students with disabilities through providing legal consultation, training, and feedback to lawyers and advocates. The task force conducted a Continuing Legal Education training on juvenile justice and special education for approximately twenty attorneys and advocates. DRT presented on the topic "Beyond the Bounds-Charters, Vouchers, and the Individualized Education Act”. DRT legal staff provided research and legal information to the task force on monthly conference calls on such topics as the Every Student Succeeds Act State Plan, Individualized Education Accounts, Office for Civil Rights decisions, and the Educator Protection Act bill. In addition, DRT facilitated many of the meetings. These efforts continue to increase the number and quality of attorneys representing students with disabilities. Further, through collaboration with the Disability Coalition on Education (DCE), Disability Rights TN (DRT) assisted in addressing many systemic issues for students with disabilities. The benefits to students with disabilities include statewide policy changes and coordination of efforts for system change. First, DCE engaged in providing input and editing public comments on the Tennessee Department of Education (TNDOE) plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). These suggestions included active engagement of the advocacy community in policy and procedures affecting students with disabilities. The TNDOE has taken this suggestion and set up cohort of approximately twelve members including DRT to provide feedback and advice to TNDOE. Second, DRT provided legal input to DCE members on a variety of special education issues. DRT provided legal education to the members on a recent USSCT case and provided some practical guidance on using the case in IEP meetings to ensure that students with disabilities get meaningful benefit from their education. Third, DRT and DCE members met with the Assistant Commissioner and the Commissioner of Education to inform them about concerns on a variety of topics including the Special Education Advisory Council including more persons with disabilities, providing families and attorneys who file administrative complaints with the information provided by the school system, and trends such as delays in TEIS services throughout the state our agencies see. TNDOE continues to consider DCE recommendations and frequently requests its input early in the process of making changes. Cases: 21 cases Parent of a nine-year-old African American male with ADHD, Cerebral Palsy, and Respiratory Disorders/Impairment contacted Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) requesting help with concerns that her son’s school failed to implement his Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) resulting in a long-term suspension. Initially, DRT was able to provide parent with case consultation regarding client’s upcoming Disciplinary Hearing and Stay Put Rules. As a result of case consultation, the Disciplinary Hearing was overturned and client was able to return to school. Upon return to school, DRT assisted parent with obtaining an updated and appropriate Functional Behavior Assessment and Behavior Intervention Plan that would address client’s needs. DRT attended two IEP meetings throughout client’s case and was able to provide self-advocacy strategies, review of parent records, request and review of school records, conduct a client observation at school, and advocate for the re-evaluation of client’s disability category. Due to the assistance DRT provided, our client was able to receive an updated Functional Behavior Assessment, Behavior Intervention Plan, and Psycho-Educational Evaluation in which he met new eligibility criteria for special education. DRT advocated for updates to the clients Individualized Education Plan to include the ways that the client’s behavior affect him so that all IEP team members are aware of his needs. As a result of DRT’s involvement, our clients target behaviors have decreased and he is successfully attending school in an inclusion setting with various accommodations and supports. Our client’s parent was satisfied with the support DRT provided and she was able to gain knowledge and advocacy skills that can enable her to better advocate for her son in future IEP meetings. Priority 4: Persons with disabilities will become empowered to exercise their rights, access services, and live independently. Objective 1: Provide general agency information through outreach and training and obtain public comment and input on future agency priorities. Objective 2: Collaborate in community, state, or national efforts to expand the rights of persons with disabilities and increase services to meet needs. Needs addressed: activities address the needs of individuals with disabilities, family members, advocacy organizations, service providers, local and state government officials and staff, the general public and others to increase their level of knowledge about the legal rights of individuals with disabilities. These activities support the empowerment of individuals with disabilities to become independent and enjoy the same opportunities as persons who do not have disabilities. Success indicators: project outcomes Collaborations: Disability Rights Tennessee advocate served as a member of the planning committee for the biannual transition conference hosted by a metropolitan school district. Over two hundred and fifty youth with disabilities, parents, educators and service providers attended and had the opportunity to gather information from area providers of services to individual with disabilities. DRT participated in the event as a part of the planning committee, exhibitor, and session facilitator. As an exhibitor, DRT had the opportunity to share information with multiple students with disabilities, parents/family members, educators and community members who were interested in the transition of youth with disabilities to life post-high school. Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) continued its work with Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and the other members of the AccessRide Policy Advisory Committee (APAC) to improve paratransit services in Nashville for passengers with disabilities. Efforts continued to improve performance areas such as on-time performance and better specified pick up/drop off locations at popular city venues. Committee members and MTA worked to come to an agreement on the No-Show policy that went into effect in 2017. Due to community advocacy, the policy is forgiving and does not include any provision for total termination of ridership. One of the committee’s ongoing goals is to help MTA improve its paratransit service. Due to committee efforts paratransit will continue to be a viable option as people continue to move into the metropolitan area.

B. Priorities and Objectives for the Current Fiscal Year

Please include a statement of priorities and objectives for the current fiscal year (the fiscal year succeeding that covered by this report), which should contain the following information:

  1. a statement of each prioirty;
  2. the need addressed by each priority; and;
  3. a description of the activities to be carried out under each priority.

Priority 1: Tennesseans with disabilities will experience reduced abuse and neglect and have appropriate safeguards to ensure their legal and human rights. Need Addressed: As recent data collection showed, the needs addressed by this priority unfortunately remain unchanged from prior years. Individuals with disabilities continue to experience abuse and neglect in public and private facilities in Tennessee due to limited resources, lack of knowledge of service providers, lack of supervision by service providers, lack of effective oversight by administrators, and the failure to follow identified best practices. Anticipated Activities: Investigate complaints of and monitor facilities and programs for abuse, neglect, exploitation, or death. Prioritize incidents indicating underlying systemic problems that, if uncorrected, may result in additional harm to people with disabilities. Provide individual advocacy to enforce the rights of residents of facilities and participants in programs. Identify incidents of abuse and neglect that impact large numbers of Tennesseans with disabilities. As issues are identified, utilize all available advocacy methods to address identified issues. Priority 2: To ensure Tennesseans with disabilities have equal access to the same programs and services as Tennesseans without disabilities, and to increase opportunities for independent decision making and independent living for Tennesseans with disabilities Anticipated Activities: Provide individual advocacy, technical assistance, and litigation for individuals who have experienced a denial of equal access in programs or services; providing education, training, and self-advocacy skills as appropriate. Monitor opportunities to provide systemic advocacy for equal access to existing programs and services in Tennessee, in collaboration with outside consumer organizations via informed policy-making as well as educational training. Priority 3: Tennesseans with disabilities will understand their rights and how to self-advocate and Tennesseans without disabilities will develop cultural competency regarding the disability experience. As a result, Tennesseans with disabilities will be treated with respect and dignity and will be included in their communities. Needs Addressed: In recent data collection, Tennesseans with disabilities overwhelmingly noted increased stigma, discrimination, and a lack of sensitivity throughout the state and in all aspects of community life. Anticipated Activities: Law enforcement, including school resource officers and first responders will have increased cultural competency regarding disabilities. The public will be informed about rights and disability sensitivity by the use of a targeted media campaign, as well as the development of targeted training and materials. Dissemination will focus in historically underserved and unserved communities. Collaboration with key disability stakeholders regarding policy initiatives will improve the respect, dignity, and integration of people with disabilities. Priority 4: Students with disabilities in Tennessee will receive a free appropriate public education through appropriate implementation of educational plans, and educational rights will be protected through appropriate development and implementation of educational plans. Need addressed: Recent data has shown that there is little change in the needs within the education system in Tennessee. As stated before, there is an ongoing failure of Tennessee school systems to appropriately implement IEPs and 504 plans. These school systems also fail to develop appropriate Functional Behavior Assessments and Behavior Intervention Plans. Anticipated Activities: Students with disabilities across the State will receive individual advocacy for the development and implementation of IEP’s and 504 plans, especially those related to behavior supports. In addition, limited advocacy and technical assistance will be provided when appropriate. Systemic educational issues will be identified and focused advocacy will be utilized to address the issues found. Students in identified school systems will receive advocacy and training resulting in policy change and successful outcomes for students with disabilities. Through collaborative efforts with key education stakeholders, the public (including families of students with disabilities and agencies) will receive education and training statewide on Functional Behavioral Assessments and Behavioral Intervention Plans. Priority 5: Improve transportation access for Tennesseans with disabilities through statewide systemic efforts. Needs Addressed: Tennesseans with disabilities experience a significant lack of reliable transportation options throughout the state. This gap leads to barriers to employment, higher education, community living, and social interactions. Anticipated Activities: Monitor existing service systems for effectiveness and advocate for policy changes to improve these systems. Identify and work to address transportation gaps through collaboration with stakeholders. Increase client knowledge of transportation options and develop self-advocacy training for the purpose of assisting Tennesseans with disabilities in navigating the transportation system effectively.

Part VI. Narrative

At a minimum, you must include all of the information requested. You may include any other information, not otherwise collected on this reporting form that would be helpful in describing the extent of PAIR activities during the prior fiscal year. Please limit the narrative portion of this report, including attachments, to 20 pages or less.

The narrative should contain the following information. The instructions for this form outline the information that should be contained in each section.

  1. Sources of funds received and expended
  2. Budget for the fiscal year covered by this report
  3. Description of PAIR staff (duties and person-years)
  4. Involvement with advisory boards (if any)
  5. Grievances filed under the grievance procedure
  6. Coordination with the Client Assistance Program (CAP) and the State long-term care program, if these programs are not part of the P&A agency

A. Source of Funding Amount Received Amount Spent Federal (section 509) 271,688 293,595 State Program income Private All other funds 36,069 10,589 Total (from all sources) 307,757 304,184 B. Category 2017 Fiscal Year 2018 Current Fiscal Year Wages/salaries 164,245 139,108 Fringe benefits (FICA, unemployment, etc.) 40,033 37,642 Materials/supplies 6,744 8,033 Postage 364 388 Telephone 6,298 4,415 Rent 26,255 18,818 Travel 5,613 6,674 Copying 63 967 Bonding/insurance 2,251 1,522 Equipment (rental/purchase) 958 1,598 Legal services 0 100 Indirect costs 43,367 40,328 Miscellaneous 7,993 18,302 Total Budget 304,184 277,895 C. Description of PAIR staff (duties and person-years) Type of Position FTE % of year filled Person-years Professional Full-time 23 100% 23 Part-time 0 Vacant 0 Clerical 0 Full-time 4 100% 4 Part-time 0 Vacant 0 D. DRT does not have a PAIR advisory council E. Three grievances were filed under PAIR. All were appeals of the determination not to provide individual legal advocacy because the individual’s issue did not meet current priorities. F. Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) has the CAP program. The Tennessee Long-term Care Ombudsman Program is not within DRT. There is a longstanding relationship between DRT. Both entities refer to one another, participate on community boards that impact individuals with disabilities living in long term care facilities, and provide training to one another.


Signed ByLisa Primm
TitleExecutive Director
Signed Date12/15/2017